Northland firefighters NSW bound

updated By James Caldwell

A 10-person firefighting crew from Forest Protection Services flew out from Whangārei Airport this morning bound for the Australian bushfires in New South Wales.

Their two teams of five are made up of four women and six men, with a mixture of experienced and novice firefighters.

Operations manager Mike Sullivan says, "There is a special type of person that gets a thrill out of doing this. They need a good work ethic, be able to work as part of a tight-knit team and they need to able to listen and take instructions."

Some of the team members have come through the Tupu Ake programme which trains 15 to 24-year-olds.

They are selected to complete a year-long programme in forestry and on completion gain a level 3 certificate in national forestry.

The trainees who stand out are promoted into fire crews where they travel the world fighting and controlling bushfires.

Over 80% of the employees are Māori and Sullivan says, "Teamwork is a huge part of their success and love of the family atmosphere that is part of the organisation."

One of the novice firefighters from the programme, Journey Huston, is both nervous and excited to go and help fight the Australian bushfires.

This is her second deployment, with the first being in December. Huston says she enjoys helping people and making a difference.

The two crew leaders taking the two teams over to Australia have a combined experience of 18 years fighting and controlling fires.

Crew leader Martin Bruce Marshall says, "We were in New South Wales a few weeks ago but we've never experienced anything of this scale."

He credits his trainers saying, "They are some of the best, if not the best in the industry."

Safety is paramount and the crew is looking forward to helping their Australian brothers and sisters.

This is their fifth deployment to the Australian bushfires this season, with the duration of two weeks at a time.